Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Health
Health Services Funding
Health and wellbeing are not evenly distributed across society. There are socially excluded groups who experience extreme health inequalities. Such groups include Travellers, homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers and people with addiction issues. Inequalities in health are reflected in the mortality and morbidity rates of the population. Rates of chronic diseases are another indicator of health inequalities. A social gradient is also apparent in mental health.
The Department of Health is developing an inclusion health policy which will sets out the department's approach to reducing health inequalities for socially excluded groups. The policy will move away from a silo approach and consider the many cross-cutting issues that affected social excluded groups, be that addiction, mental health, or physical health. It will address the social determinants of health and outline models to provide integrated and comprehensive healthcare services, in line with Slaintecare.
The Department has undertaken significant measures across the health service to address the health needs of Travellers, including funding for the All Ireland Traveller Health Study. There is ongoing and extensive engagement with Traveller organisations on their health needs.
The Department provides funding in the region of €10m per annum to the HSE for targeted measures to improve the health status of the Travelling community. These include:
- primary healthcare projects, counselling services, family support programmes and men's health projects; dedicated public health nurses and related staff;
- mental health promotion and suicide prevention services in a culturally sensitive manner, to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
A further €500,000 initiatives aimed at improving Traveller mental health is provided through the Dormant Accounts Fund. Additional funding for Traveller mental health initiatives is provided in the HSE National Service Plan 2019.
The provision of additional resources for Traveller health is a matter for consideration in the preparation of the Estimates for Budget 2020.
The National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy (NTRIS) sets out over 30 actions to address the health needs of Travellers and Roma. The Department and the HSE report regularly on the implementation of these actions to the NTRIS steering group, chaired by Minister David Stanton. One of the NTRIS actions is for the HSE to develop and implement a detailed action plan to continue to address the specific health needs of Travellers, using a social determinants approach.
As Minister for health promotion, I am fully committed to improving the health outcomes for Travellers and I look forward to receiving from the HSE its Traveller health action plan in due course.